$50M courthouse funding goes to local bank in Cumming
Finance dept. will work with UCB in choosing plan

by Aldo Nahed

October 17, 2012

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The first $50 million in funding for the courthouse and jail expansion project in downtown Cumming will come from a local bank.

At its Oct. 9 work session, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners accepted the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VII (SPLOST) courthouse and jail project team’s recommendation to go with United Community Bank for a $50 million loan to kick-start the $100 million project.

The SPLOST also plans to fund $72 million for roads, bridges and sidewalks; $4 million toward public safety projects; $3 million for an animal shelter and $2.8 million for the county’s library.

Commissioners could have also chosen to finance the project through a bond.

Finance Director David Gruen also addressed the funding of other SPLOST projects at the work session.

The SPLOST, a 1 percent tax on consumable goods first approved by voters 29 years ago, is estimated to collect $200 million over six years, starting next year and running through 2019.

The SPLOST will not begin collecting funds until July, but county leaders want to get the courthouse project underway.

United Community Bank President Tim Heard presented financing options. Heard said if the county borrows the money, their financing could be between $2 million and $2.35 million.

Commissioners charged Gruen with working with the bank to choose between a fixed rate, two-year forward start and blend of fixed and variable rates.

“The beauty about using a bank is that we’re very flexible,” Heard said. “We can come up with different scenarios. It’s a line of credit, and you only pay interest on the money you draw and use.”